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IAT 103W: Library research guide

This website is intended to help you work through your IAT 103W research assignments.

Workshop Activity Quick Links: 

Steven Marche article: "Is Facebook making us lonely?"

Eric Klinenberg article:  "Facebook isn't making us lonely"

Week 2 Slides

Week 2 Citation Activity

Week 6 Slides

We're here to help!

If you need help, please contact Adena Brons, Liaison Librarian at 778-782-7588 or abrons@sfu.ca or Ask a librarian.

Understanding your topic with background reading

Using subject specific encyclopedias (just about one topic, rather than general encyclopedias that cover many topics), you can often find comprehensive summaries of your topic. This often gives you a good foundation from which to do further research, which can be hard to find elsewhere.map icon

The reference books that are useful to you will depend on your subject area.  Here are some online reference books that might include background information on your topic:

If you're using Wikipedia for background reading, be cautious of its reliability. Confirm the information against other sources, as anyone can change Wikipedia articles at any time (example). However, the references section of Wikipedia articles can be useful; also the links section.

Finding books and articles

Books tend to give you a better overview of topics, as well as including more specific information. Articles are generally more specific than books and tend to focus on a certain aspect of a topic. 

Use the SFU Library Catalogue to search for books & articles at the same time. After your initial search, you can use the left side of the screen to limit your results by format, date, location, and so on.  However, at the moment the catalogue does not search through all of the Library's online and print journal articles, so you will want to use other resources (such as subject-specific databases) as well.

Databases can be multidisciplinary or subject-specific (i.e. science, history, etc.). To find out which ones would be best to search in, use the "Browse databases by subject area" dropdown menu on the databases page. Searching more than one database is a good idea, as they often contain citations to different articles.

Here's a list of databases you could try for your assignment:

Multidisciplinary databases

  • Academic Search Complete
    Includes articles from a range of academic journals and popular magazines. Covers a broad range of topics.
  • Sociological Abstracts
    Academic content (articles, book chapters, etc.) related to the study of society. 
  • Web of Science
    Articles from scholarly journals in scientific fields.
  • Humanities and Social Sciences Index
    Includes articles from a wide range of academic journals in the social sciences and humanities. Good for almost any topic.
  • Science Indexes
    Articles from scholarly journals and popular magazines on a wide range of science topics.
  • CBCA Complete
    Articles from Canadian sources, including some scholarly journals, business magazines, and popular news magazines and newspapers. Good for learning about the 'Canadian' angle to any question.
  • Google Scholar
    Google Scholar enables you to search for scholarly literature, from broad areas of research though mostly in the science and technology fields. Searching is not as focused as in the other article databases.

Subject-specific databases

  • PsycINFO
    Scholarly articles from psychology journals. Good for any topic with a psychology angle.
  • Communication & Mass Media Complete
    Scholarly journal articles from the fields of communications, mass media, linguistics and film.
  • Design and Applied Arts Index
    Covers designers and the development of design and the applied arts
  • Education Source
    Education and education-related journal articles.
  • ACM Digital Library
    Academic articles from the Association for Computing Machinery. Mostly "hard-core" computer science, but some material on computing & society.
  • Business Source Complete
    Articles from over 3700 business journals in all business areas, at least 1000 of which are scholarly/peer-reviewed.
  • CINAHL Complete
    Scholarly and popular articles on a wide range of health topics.

Evaluating your sources

It is important to understand the differences in the types of publications you will encounter. Often popular science magazines summarize recent reports from the primary scholarly literature for the general public. Scholarly publications report on new research or ideas and are used for scholarly communication. Each of these types of publications can be found in print and on the web.

See SFU Library's What is a scholarly (or peer-reviewed) journal? guide to help you distinguish between popular magazines, scholarly journals, and trade publications. For a more detailed overview of the peer review process, see the Library's What is a peer-reviewed journal? FAQ.

To help you evaluate information you find on the internet, see SFU Library's guide to Finding and evaluating resources on the web.

Help with writing your paper

The Student Learning Commons has peer tutors available to help with writing your paper. You can either drop-in or make an appointment, and it's located inside Fraser Library (Surrey), in the Yosef Wosk Student Learning Commons.

Using APA to cite your sources

It's important to cite your sources, so that:

  • Your reader can locate the sources you used for your paper
  • To give credit to the people whose research and ideas you used in your paper

APA style guides:

If the document you are trying to cite is not included in either of these APA guides, try the APA Style Blog or consult the latest edition of the APA Publication Manual.

Information about plagiarism and how to avoid it

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